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FIGHT NIGHT ROUND 3 ( XBOX 360 ) 
Fight Night Round 3
84%
Great Visuals
Fun Online Mode
Lacks Career Depth

Since the release of the Fight Night Round 3 demo on the XBox 360 Marketplace, next generation gamers and fight fans have been eager to get their hands on EA Sport’s latest instalment of the series. FNR3 certainly looks the part graphic wise. Detail levels on each fighter look fantastic. While each genuine fighter has been masterfully rendered to resemble Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Joe Frazier, randomly generated opponents also look great. If your lucky enough to have a HD television or to have got your hands on a VGA HD cable to allow for use with a TFT PC monitor the spray of sweat as punches land and camera lighting effect really show what the hardware in the latest consoles can do. So how do it play? The first thing you’ll notice is the speed of gameplay. Punches are noticeably delivered slower compared to the previous title. There is more emphasis on timing this time around, especially in Career Mode when you battle against the games AI. Blocked punches now result in a split second delay allowing for a counter punch, so it pays to tighten up your defence.

Such an improvement in graphics allows for a pretty cool create a boxer feature where just about any boxer can be created. Not only face, forehead, chin, eyes, cheeks be altered easily, but so can be fight styles. Many of which can be unlocked from other game modes in the game. We were able to make a damn good Apollo Creed in about five minutes of tweaking even without any of the additional fight styles or shorts unlocked. As like any of the pre-created fighters, this custom boxers can be used in both the quick matches and the career modes of FNR3.

On the topic of Career Mode, we were particularly curious as to how EA Sports were going to improve on Round 2’s boxing game world. The previous title introduced rankings and the amateur career and while this allowed you to track the championship linage, it lacked any real perception of being in the boxing world. Often the fight record of opponents didn’t correspond with the brief news snippets the game provided. Nor was there any means of knowing what was happening in other weight classes during your career. No managerial choices for your boxer and no fight calendar allowing for you to watch other fights and plan your strategy against a future opponent. These limitations certainly provided scope for improvement.. The developers have got round this by totally scrapping the rankings.

This hits FNR3 pretty hard. The career mode, while introducing the element of rivals, where you are forced to fight a particular opponent 3 or 4 times in your career seriously lacks any thought or preparation between fights from the gamer. Fights are now given to you one after the other, a la Frank Bruno’s boxing or Super Punch Out from the eighties. You do get alternative opponents half of the time, but you have no idea who these guys have fought. They may have mixed with championship opposition, or with just corndog vendors or part-time dockworkers looking for a bit of extra cash. Needless to say, forget about seeing who the current champion is or heaven forbid, even watch the title defence. Too much is asked of the gamers imagination. A monthly ingame publication showing latest results, who is up next for the champ, retirements, special offers for that month on a particular piece of training equipment or even which boxer has been done for banned substances would have been great. The games also needs to keep an up to date database of all of the fights and happenings of the fight world across all weight classes. The rivals feature which is often referred to by the commentator is a nice touch, but could only really compliment the world boxing rankings, not replace them.

Other game modes include a Hard Hits mode that is an arcade-styled where the object is to knock your opponent down as many times as possible for 15 rounds. While this is pretty good fun if you have a second controller and some friends round, even better is the ESPN classic bouts. In this mode you can relive or change the outcome of a few of memorable classic bouts such as Ali vs Frazier, Ray Leonard vs Hagler or Barrera vs Morales. Each rivalry is complimented with video and dedicated commentary proceeding and during the fight.

The game’s controls haven’t changed from the previous title, which will no doubt be a good thing for both returning fans and gamers new to the series. Personally, I still enjoy the feel of the Total Punch Control by way the right analog stick and the dodging and parrying can still seem a bit stiff but it’s still wonderfully responsive. This year we see three new impact punches like the ESPN Haymaker, the Flash KO and the Stun Punch. All three bring more flash and style to each round and they’re nicely effective when executed correctly. You’ll be glad these new impact punches are available because even in the medium setting the opponent AI is sharp.

The real fun begins when you take Round 3 online. Players can use their career boxers online against another player’s created boxer or a boxing legend. Fight Night Round 3 over Xbox Live is where gamers will get the bang for their buck out of this title. Fights via Xbox Live will get your blood pumping as this time it really counts. Xbox Live supports leaderboards and rankings for players who love to boast and talk trash. Playing against a real opponent is so rewarding when you get that knockout that you’ll keep coming back for more.

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